Will seniors fight back?

November 23rd, 2003 – 8:12 pm
Tagged as: Uncategorized

Now that the Republican leadership in the House has pushed their Medicare “reforms” through with a late night roll call vote, it’s time for the Senate to take up the bill. Right now it’s looking like it’ll pass, as the Democrats may not have enough votes to filibuster it, but there are already indications that the end result will be a backlash from America’s seniors.

As they weigh their votes on a massive Medicare prescription drug bill, a lot of nervous lawmakers keep seeing the ghosts of a senior citizens’ revolt 14 years ago.

Then as now, Congress was on the verge of expanding Medicare coverage. Critics were warning seniors they were getting a raw deal. And lawmakers back in 1989 were equally eager to convince Americans that their new Medicare benefits were a wonderful idea.

For Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., then powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, it all boiled over on a hot day in August when he failed to sell the new coverage to elderly activists at a seniors’ center on Chicago’s North Side. Brandishing canes, some waving signs saying “Rottenkowski,” they chased the sweating, panicked lawmaker to his car. When they surrounded his car, he got out and ran down the street.

Within months, Congress had repealed the law.

Hopefully the backlash that the AARP is already experiencing from it members for it’s support of this deeply flawed bill is an indication that America’s seniors are prepared to stand up for themselves.

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